How to Find a Benefits Broker
The process of finding a new employee benefits broker isn’t an exact science – but if you want to hire someone great, you’ll want to follow some best practices. You may not want to go with the first choice without research, but you don’t want to indiscriminately cast a wide net either.
Many employers are quick to sign a BOR with an easily recognizable big-name broker based on name alone. Still, a traditional broker from a well-known established firm may not be the best partner for you. (Heads up — this is especially true for small to midsize businesses.)
How can I find great benefits broker candidates?
If you’re planning to start the RFP process and choose a new benefits broker, start by building a list of candidates based on research. Here are three ways to source a pool of potential benefits brokers.
See which brokers your HR peers recommend
Of all the strategies on this list, this one is the number one must-do. Your HR peers’ recommendations can be the key to finding a great broker.
Here’s why. Brokers should have a close and collaborative relationship with their clients’ HR teams. (In fact, this is a major part of what benefits brokers do for their clients.) This gives your HR peers insider insights as to which brokers fulfill expectations and which fall short.
If fellow HR teams consider a certain broker “meh,” then that’s a major red flag. If a broker hasn’t gone above and beyond to support your HR friends, then take them off the list.
Try to reach out to HR teams at similar-sized employers. They’re more likely to know what level of support you’ll need from your broker. For example, an HR leader at a midsize business (<500 employees) will have a very different relationship with their broker than the leader at a big employer.
Virtual HR communities can also come in handy here. These forums allow HR leaders to chat and share experiences with brokers candidly. (Pro tip: Nava’s HR Community is now accepting new members!)
Check out the contributors on benefits trade publications you trust
Your benefits broker should be on the up-and-up of industry data and trends. So if a broker is contributing perspectives and thought leadership to trade publications, it says a lot about their expertise and influence.
Why? If a broker’s contributions are featured in a trusted benefits publication like HR Dive or Benefits Pro, it’s a good sign that they know what they’re talking about. A benefits broker who serves as an expert resource to HR leaders is someone who you want on your team.
Try doing a quick sweep of your favorite HR or benefits publications. Keep an eye out for brokers whose hot takes align with your values, or solve problems that are top of mind.
Still, keep in mind that the loudest and most publicized voices still may not be the best partner for you. Don’t base your decision solely on clout.
Ask your favorite benefits vendors for their recommendations
Benefits vendors have an insider perspective of the market and tend to know which brokers do good work. When looking for the right broker, benefits vendors can provide insight based on your budget, needs, and preferences, recommending a potential fit for your needs.
Vendors can offer guidance on the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate they recommend – so you can make a more informed decision.
So you have a pool of potential candidates to check out. What’s next?
Once you’ve narrowed your candidates down to the best options to meet your unique criteria, you have a couple of options: start an RFP process or go straight to the BOR letter.
An RFP is a great way to weigh your options and get a sense of how each broker would support you. Seeing all the qualities of each of your potential brokers stacked beside each other in one place can help to cut through the haze and make a final decision.
For more information on the ins and outs of the RFP process (and to download a free sample RFP template), check out Nava’s RFP Roadmap.
The BOR is the final step to changing your broker. It’s a pretty simple form to fill out and submit — but should only be reserved for when you’re 100% confident in your new choice of partner. A BOR is a legally binding contract between you and your broker.
Sure, contracts can always be broken — but that can be more of a hassle than taking the time to ensure you’re happy with your choice. If you have even the slightest feeling of uncertainty, an RFP is a great way to go.